I love to wake up in the morning, just before the sun breaks the horizon, regardless of the weather, and head out on the trail for a run, lost in my thoughts and solitude, listening to the world waking up. There has always been something comforting for me about the dawn. It is the start of a day that has been given given to me as a gift, a day which holds the promise of new discoveries, strengthening relationships, and personal growth. It is said that the darkest hour is the one before the dawn. I find peace in the dawn because the light inevitably turns back the dark, and any worries of yesterday give way to renewed hope. Hope is a fuel that allows us to get through that darkest hour. In the words of Alexander Pope, "Hope springs eternal in the human breast."
Dawn over the beautiful Spanish Peaks wilderness of Montana.
We all experience those darkest moments before the dawn. Adversity comes, challenges pop up and for a bleak moment we lose sight of our way, we lose sight of hope. We forget that we are all really frightened little children, all of us, in a dark room, fumbling for a light switch, even though our egos temporarily allow us to camouflage our fears to those on the outside looking in. Even though we are not alone, we feel lonely. I guess this is when you have to lean on your sense of spirituality and also rely on the insurance policy known as friendship. I stand four-square with you ...
It has occurred to me recently that "dawn" manifests itself in different forms. It comes not only with the start of a new day, but with the start of a new year, a new relationship, a new job, a move to another state, the birth of a child, a commitment to whipping yourself into tip-top shape, etc. You say you are tired of looking for work? Want to be involved in an intimate relationship? Not happy with where you live? Dissatisfied with your body? Where there is adversity, there is always hope just around the bend brought to us by the flowing river we know as time. Be patient. Dawn is coming and with it comes opportunity. This is truly a wonderful aspect of life, its unpredictability. (Sidebar: I remember when I was a grad student back in Montana down to my last package of ramen noodles and found a crisp $100 bill the next morning running out in the middle of nowhere -- it's true!)
We need to view hope with a bit of caution. I could be entirely wrong, but in my opinion, merely relying on hope by itself to save the day or to alter the flow of your life is an abdication of responsibility. In a way, merely relying on hope to improve your lot in life steers perilously close to playing the role of a victim. Ben Franklin said, "He that lives upon hope will die fasting." Put another way by my long since dearly departed mother, "You can pray to God for potatoes, but you first have to grab the hoe." In other words, it is not enough to just cling to hope ... at some point, you have to take full responsibility for yourself and act upon the opportunity that hope delivers to you. Otherwise, hope becomes just another pop-psychology buzzword with no substance nor meaning. And your problems won't go away. They will only reinvent themselves again and again in other manifestations, and you will plow the same ground again and again.
So hunker down, my friend, and hold on. Be patient. Cling to hope, but be ready. The storm will pass soon enough and the sun will come out. It will then be time for you to break camp and start climbing again ...
Dawn comes at 17,200' on the West Buttress route of Denali with Mt. Foraker in the distance.